TRAVERSE CITY, MI â€“ President Obamaâ€™s goal of having 1 million plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 may be too lofty, says a topofficial.
â€śItâ€™s a big, big challenge,â€ť Josephine Cooper, group vice president-government affairs forMotor North America Inc., says here during the Management Briefing Seminars.
In her speech, Cooper notes standard HEVs have been available for 12 years (first-generation Toyota Prius andInsight), but in 2009 they make up just 2% of the total U.S. new-vehicle market.
With current sales volumes, Obamaâ€™s goal amounts to 10% of all vehicle sales, she says.
â€śFive years will be a challenge, and Iâ€™m not sure weâ€™ll be able to make it,â€ť she says of the 2015 plug-in target.
Nevertheless, Toyota will be â€śaggressiveâ€ť in pushing toward the goal, Cooper says, planning to debut a plug-in version of the Prius for fleets later this year in the U.S.
However, she notes groups and individuals that have used aftermarket plug-in conversion kits to make their standard HEV a plug-in have seen fuel economy that hasnâ€™t lived up to the hype.
â€śWe have heard claims of more than 100 mpg (2.4 L/100 km)â€ť from third-party conversion proponents, Cooper says. But fleet customers such as the U.S. Department of Energy â€śare averaging less than 55 mpg (4.3 L/100 km) in real-world driving conditions,â€ť with unproven battery technology.
Echoing todayâ€™s earlier comments fromNorth America Inc.â€™s Larry Dominique, Cooper says putting vehicles on the market that donâ€™t meet consumer expectations could be detrimental for the industry and acceptance of advanced powertrain technology.
â€śThat would set us all back a long, long way,â€ť she says.
Cooper restates Toyotaâ€™s longstanding position to market a variety of alternative technologies to reduce fuel use and lower emissions, not just HEVs and plug-ins, but also electric and hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles.
Toyota is readying an EV for fleets in 2012 and has placed a mass-introduction date of 2015 on FCVs.